Either a single cultivar or a group of very closely related strains, the Mongibello or Mt Etna variety may be the most common type of fig grown in northern zones.
This type of fig can be traced to Mt Etna, Sicily where it is known as Mongibello, beautiful mountain, presumably combining the Sicilian Mungibeddu with the Italian Montebello. If planted outdoors and killed to the ground by severe cold over winter, Mongibello is the cultivar most likely to ripen fruit on new growth in summer.
Mt Etna and the Mt Etnas: The purple/red berry punch Mt Etna fig variety may be the most common type of fig grown in ground along the US eastern seaboard from Boston to Baltimore because of the ability to ripen fruit the summer after severe winters. Tracing to the foothills of Mt Etna, Sicily, where it is known as Mongibello, “Mt Etna” is an umbrella name. Some Mt Etnas traded or sold under many different names have been shown to be genetically slightly different from one another, while others seem synonymous
Various forms of protection can help most fig cultivars avoid total top-kill. One simple method: in fall, press low limbs flat to the ground and cover with layers of leaves, wood chips, or dirt.
A bountiful fig with a wonderful grape-strawberry flavor, Mongibello begins to ripen a couple weeks after the earliest cultivars, all things equal. Of any fig cultivar grown in ground in cold zones, robust Mongibello seems best able to ripen fruit each year.
These figs are known and distributed under many names, including: Hardy Chicago, Takoma Violet, Gino’s Black, Sal’s EL/GS, Maryland Berry, Zingarella, Rossi Dark, Marseilles Black, Keddie, Malta Black, Black Greek, Spanish Unknown, Dark Portuguese, Salem Dark, Black Bethlehem, Macool, St Rita, Danny’s Delight, Jersey Fig, Martini, Don Fortis, Hardy Pittsburgh, Hardy Hartford, Mt Etna Unknown, GM #11 (Sicilian Dark), Abba, NJ Red, San Donato (Calabria), Dominick’s, Bari …